Huffpost Religion

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Steve McSwain Headshot

The Sign of Spiritual Maturity

Posted: Updated:


How do I know when I am advancing on the spiritual path? What is a "sign" of spiritual maturity?

I would answer with a few questions of my own.

Must everyone believe as you believe in order to accepted by you?

Do you insist that what you believe is right and, by implication, suggest that what others believe must be wrong?

When you suggest that you, and other folks like you, "just believe the Bible," for instance, are you aware that what you are really saying is that you believe your "version" or "interpretation" of the Bible and that equally devoted followers of the Bible frequently interpret the same Bible differently but just as sincerely as you do?

So, can you make room for others? Can you be honest enough to admit that you, and others like you, might just be wrong yourselves?

When you are able to make your "truth" claims with passion and sincerity, but at-one-and-the-same time clothe them with love, humility and room for others to believe and so hold to equally meaningful "truth" claims for them, you, my friend, are, in my own opinion, advancing in the direction of spiritual maturity -- true enlightenment. Or, if you prefer, simply human maturity.

It is time that we live in a world of mutual humility, what I would call Christ-like humility --what others might describe as a Buddha-like respectfulness. It is time for greater openness, for conversation, for contemplation, for introspection, not only between all religions but between religionists and those who claim no religion whatsoever.

F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested, "The sign of first rate intelligence" -- I would say, the sign of first-rate, maturity -- "is the capacity to hold two opposing ideas in one's mind and still be able to function" -- I would say, "still be at peace with oneself and respectful toward all others."

Can you?

Make it your spiritual ambition or, if you're not a religious person, make it your human ambition, to live beyond arrogance or believing in your beliefs. "Beliefs," as noted in "Why is God Laughing?," "are a coverup for insecurity. You only ever believe in the things you do not know."

When you "know" something, what is there to believe in?

If you are a spiritual person, make it your ambition to know yourself, to know God -- this is faith. Do not be content with knowing "about" God -- that's the "belief" stuff, which is just believing in the words you say about God or that someone else might say about God.

No, know God for yourself instead.

"How?" you ask.

Wrong question.

Start from the premise that you know God already.


Because you do.

"What do you mean?" you ask.

If you did not know God already, why would you bother to ask the question?

Give up looking for God, too, for God cannot be found. When you make this discovery, you have experienced what I feel is grace.

Grace is simply the inner realization that God has found you already.